at a solar installation near our home!
such a simple concept: use free energy from the sun and our nation's energy
security can not be challenged nor will OPEC's policies result in our armed
forces being put in harm's way. If only the politicians could think that simply.
This farm site has four great trackers keeping the 4.5 kW array always facing
Newer Trace Inverters:
Our inverter was replaced in September, 2001, with two new Trace Sun Tie inverters.
They were then upgraded on September 30, 2002 with the XR versions of Sun
Check it out.
PBS Visit: A production team from CTPBS spent an entire day at our
home in November, 2002.
Seen here is our architect, Steven Strong, being
interviewed by producer/director Jennifer Boyd.
I, too, was taped for this series and ended driving the
television crew to Solar Market where I filled up my VW with biodiesel. This
series on sustainable living will be aired on Connecticut Public Television
early in 2003, and will then be offered to PBS as a possible series for national
Diesel: I now have a VW Beetle. I've been using 100% biodiesel from
Solar Market during
the late spring, summer and early fall. It works fine and is a soybean oil product.
That means I can drive anywhere without using any petroleum fuel. I drove 6,088
miles during the 100% bioD period and got 45.4 mpg overall - that includes air
conditioning use as well. I've gotten as high as 56 mpg on long trips. Oh, I
do have a new vanity plate - BIO BUG. One of my neighbors has BIO DIEZL. Enthusiasm
for biodiesel is catching!
The smiling feminine faces are from VW Driver
Magazine...their story about our home and pictures of BIO BUG are now in the
fall edition of the magazine. Cathy and Nina
spent a full day with us and enjoyed our town's local fare - lobster and clams.
Welcome Hawaii: Hawaii
became the 34th state to enact net metering legislation in June of 2001, with
a modest but significant measure that is likely to spur significant commercialization
for solar electric and small wind systems, in part because Hawaii has the highest
retail utility rates in the country (as much as 25 cents/kWh) and in part because
Hawaii has excellent, consistent solar and wind energy resources [from Tom Starrs].
Check your state.
Channel Broadcast: A television crew from The History Channel spent
time here in August, taping interviews with Steven Strong, our architect, and
yours truly. The program was aired on December 5, 2000. Our solution for harvesting
the sun's energy for electricity and hot water was the conclusion of a detailed
description of how electrical power was invented, grew, and now is one of the
insatiable addictions of the western world. The show treated solar power as
a reasonable and partial solution to global warming.
It can be purchased from The History Channel by calling
1 800 708-1776 - ask for #43060 -- Modern Marvels: Power Plants. The word is
spreading that solar power works and can help reduce our dependence on dirty and
limited fossil fuels. Here on the left, I'm being asked to explain net metering
to The History Channel crew.
& Garden TV Here! Yes, solar power was a star again! A crew from the
Home & Garden show "Dream Builders" spent time video taping the
house and asking the right questions in October, 2000. Here, on the left, is
host Scott Morgan walking his viewers through our solar basement. It was shown
in December and will continue to be shown throughout the coming years.
Here's what Scott had to say about their visit to our
home: "We are looking at the future of power supply and sustainable building
in America. Hopefully, with a little exposure, this sort of innovative technology
will become the norm. Send your show ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And thanks to Debbi and Bill for letting us invade your beautiful home!"
We had a visit in November from Winslow
Management Company of Boston - a firm that invests exclusively in
environmentally effective companies. President Jack Robinson (seen on the far
right) brought a crew to photograph the house and learn in person about solar
homes that are harvesting the sun's energy every day of the year.
As you can see by the jackets, the weather is getting a
little nippy but the south facing slope of the land kept us comfortable even
though the thermometer was hovering around 32 degrees.
We continue to welcome guests who express an interest in
solar power. What better way to spread the word? We also try to book clear skies
whenever any photography is scheduled. The weather has been fairly cooperative,
as it was on this day...nothing like puffy clouds above the house to make a
Who? The house on the right is not ours but one of our most famous summer
residents. In fact, this house and its location draw tourists to our area by the
busload. One additional hint, it has secret service protection.
By now, you've probably guessed that the solar thermal
panels on the roof belong to former president George Bush and his wife - that's
their summer home at the ocean's edge in Kennebunkport. The panels can only be
seen from the water side.
During the summer months, the flagpole on the front lawn
displays a large American flag and when the former president's two sons are
visiting, the Texas and Florida flags can be seen as well.
2000 - Thirty
Austrian Architects Visit: The day was sunny and the visitors from
the Danube University of Krems, Austria, were smiling as they visited our solar
house. The university offers a postgraduate education degree in the field of
Solar Architecture. All students are working architects seeking to learn the
advantages of solar design. Each year the students travel the world to inspect
various solar installations. Ours was one of many American projects they
visited. They were a great group...anxious to learn why so few people in the
United States embrace solar architecture (that's a whole course in itself) and
pleased to find those who do. As they left, one of the group said, "Thank
you for building this house." My pleasure.
2000 Event: I attended
the Building Energy 2000 Conference, sponsored by the Northeast Sustainable
Energy Association, at Yale University on March 16, 2000. I participated in
a session on getting the word out to the public about solar energy. My bottom
line was that there is a free lunch in the renewable energy world. In fact,
there is a free dinner too. What costs is the expensive breakfast. Once you've
paid for the equipment (breakfast), the rest of your meals are essentially free!
1999 Update: We
harvested 4,508 kWh of power from the sun in 1999 giving us an annual surplus of
352 kWh! Check out the numbers
for 1998 and 1999.
Solar Home Tour Oct. 16, '99: This was our first group from nearby
Gorham, Maine. As you can see, there are some early adopters (age wise) in this
group. It was a glorious day with solar tanks heating up to 165 degrees and the
PV panels putting out maximum wattage...just what solar power is all about.
Solar Capital of the World!:
Yes, Maine was the "cat's meow" during the month of June, 1999 as
the American Solar Energy Society held its annual convention in Portland...and I
got to speak about "Living Well with Solar in Maine."
It was an impressive gathering. Most notable was Steven
Strong's answer (my architect) to the question about pv payback? "Engineers
in Switzerland have meticulously attempted to measure the electrical output of
asphalt shingles and other conventional roofing material, " he noted.
"Because there is no current flowing, there appears to be no payback on
most roofs throughout the world...unlike a solar roof," he concluded with a
ASES Tour: Fifty ASES convention attendees toured solar homes in
our area. They were from all over the country...several other countries were
also represented. They saw straw bale construction, a stand alone home, and
three utility intertie buildings. Our famous Maine fog lifted just in time for
the sun to do its thing with our pv and solar thermal panels. It was a full day
for the tour group...and a fine opportunity to show what Maine is doing with
Women in Photovoltaics: A group of twenty women visited our home
before the ASES convention. They then jointly constructed a PV project under the
supervision of my neighbor, Peter Talmage. Here in Peter's barn the group learns
about specific equipment and electrical theory. Peter and his partner, Naoto
Inoue of Talmage Solar Engineering, will also be speaking at the conference.
1999 Media Coverage: We
made the cover of Home Power Magazine last spring. You really should subscribe,
but while you're waiting you can access their
site. TIME Magazine Online has selected our architect, Steven Strong, as a
"Hero for the Planet." Check out the article.
And EVWorld interviewed me about our house. That article along with a RealAudio
file is also available.
1999 Backup System:
We've added a battery-operated backup system in case of complete grid
failure. Check it out. Y2K
problems were absent in our state, though the system was ready for any power
disruption. It came in handy recently when a truck hit a pole on our route,
cutting off grid power for several hours. The backup system flawlessly switched
on during the neighborhood blackout and then off when grid power was restored.
1999 Maine PUC Adopts a New
Annualized Net Metering Policy: A progressive, simpler and more
effective net metering policy has been finalized by our Public Utilities
Commission in response to input from concerned citizens. Check out the new
policy and how it came about. It's a new millennium for renewable energy in
our state. "As Maine goes, so goes the nation?"